26 June 2011

Indonesia: Government regulation on female circumcision must be repealed

Joint statement by Amnesty International and Indonesian civil society organizations - June 23, 2011

AI Index: ASA 21/015/2011

Indonesian authorities must immediately repeal the newly issued government regulation permitting female circumcision ('sunat perempuan'), and instead enact specific legislation with appropriate penalties prohibiting all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The new regulation legitimizes the practice of female genital mutilation and authorizes certain medical professionals, such as doctors, midwives and nurses, to perform it. The new regulation defines this practice as "the act of scratching the skin covering the front of the clitoris, without hurting the clitoris". The procedure includes "a scratch on the skin covering the front of clitoris (frenulum clitoris) using the head of a single use sterile needle" (Article 4.2 (g)). According to the new regulation, the act of female circumcision can only be conducted with the request and consent of the person circumcised, parents, and/or guardians.

This new regulation by the Ministry of Health (No. 1636/MENKES/PER/XI/2010) concerning female circumcision, issued in November 2010, runs counter to the government's steps to enhance gender equality and combat discrimination against women in all its forms. It violates a number of Indonesian laws, including Law No. 7/1984 on the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Law No. 5/1998 on the ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights; Law No. 23/2002 on Child Protection; Law No. 23/2004 on the Elimination of Domestic Violence; and Law No. 23/2009 on Health. It also runs counter to a 2006 government circular, No. HK. 1047a, signed by the Director General of Community Health, which specifically warned about the negative health effects of female genital mutilation on

Female genital mutilation constitutes a form of violence against women which should be eradicated. Where the state fails to effectively challenge these practices, it reinforces the perception that others are entitled to control a woman's or a girl's sexuality, that is, to decide on her behalf under what circumstances she should (or should not) engage in sexual activity. Amnesty International is concerned that this regulation condones and encourages female genital mutilation, a practice which inflicts pain and suffering on women and girls, and hence violates the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. Female genital mutilation also encourages discriminatory stereotypes about women's sexuality.

As documented in a 2010 report, Left without a choice: Barriers to reproductive health in Indonesia, Amnesty International was told by many women and girls that they chose female genital mutilation for their own baby girl in recent years. The practice is generally undertaken by a traditional birth attendant within the first six weeks after the baby girl is born. The women said they had asked that their baby girl have female genital mutilation performed for religious reasons. Other reasons women cited ranged from wanting to ensure the girl's "cleanliness" (the external female genitalia are considered dirty) and avoiding diseases; to perpetuating cultural or local practices; or seeking to regulate or suppress the girls' urge towards "sexual activity" during adulthood. Some women described the procedure as being merely a "symbolic scratch", while in other cases they explained that it consisted of cutting a small piece of the clitoris. Many women interviewed
 agreed that there would be some bleeding as a result.

Irrespective of the extent of the procedure, the practice of female genital mutilation highlights discriminatory stereotypes about female genitalia being "dirty" or degraded; that women are not entitled to make their own choices about sexuality in the same way as men; and that women and girls can only be fully dignified in their religious practice if their bodies are altered, hence that there is something inherently wrong about women's bodies. Attitudes which denigrate women because of their actual or perceived sexuality are often used to justify violence against women.

In its 2007 concluding observations, the CEDAW Committee recommended that Indonesia develop a plan of action to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation, including implementing public awareness-raising campaigns to change the cultural perceptions connected with it; and provide education regarding the practice as a violation of the human rights of women and girls that has no basis in religion.

In its 2008 concluding observations, the UN Committee against Torture also recommended that Indonesia adopt all adequate measures to eradicate the persistent practice of female genital mutilation, including through awareness-raising campaigns in co-operation with civil society organizations.

As state party to CEDAW and CAT, the Indonesian authorities must immediately take the following steps as a matter of priority:

1. Repeal the Regulation of the Minister of Health No. 1636/MENKES/PER/XI/2010 concerning female circumcision;

2. Enact specific legislation with appropriate penalties prohibiting female genital mutilation; and

3. Implement public awareness-raising campaigns to change the cultural perceptions associated with female genital mutilation.

This joint statement is endorsed by:

Indonesian civil society organizations:

Aceh Peace Consultative Management/APCM
Aliansi Pelangi Antar Bangsa
Aliansi Sumut Bersatu (ASB)
Ardhanary Institute
Asian Moslem Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia
Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI)
Barisan Perempuan Indonesia
CEDAW Working Group Initiative
Center for Human Rights Law Studies (HRLS), Faculty of Law, Airlangga University
Fahmina Institute
Federasi LBH APIK Indonesia
Forum Pemerhati Masalah Perempuan (FPMP) Sulawesi Selatan
GemaPalu, Lumajang
Herlounge (Viena Tanjung)
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
Indonesia AIDS Coalition
Indonesia Support Facility (InSuFa)
Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP)
Institut Hak Asasi Perempuan (IHAP), Yogyakarta
Institut Perempuan, Bandung
IRSAD (Institute for Religion and Sustainable Development), West Sumatra
Jaringan Kerja Prolegnas Pro Perempuan (JKP3)
JASS Indonesia
Kartini Asia Network
Kaukus Perempuan DPD RI
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Bali
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Bangka-Belitung
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Banten
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat DKI Jakarta
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Jawa Barat
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Jawa Tengah
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Jawa Timur
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Kalimantan Barat
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Kalimantan Selatan
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Kalimantan Tengah
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Kalimantan Timur
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Kepulauan Riau
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Nusa Tenggara Barat
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Nusa Tenggara Timur
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Sulawesi Barat
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Sulawesi Selatan
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Sulawesi Tenggara
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Sulawesi Utara
KePPaK PEREMPUAN Komisariat Sumatera Selatan
Koalisi Aktivis Perempuan Sulawesi Selatan (Sulsel)
Koalisi NGO HAM Aceh (Evi Zain)
Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia
Konsorsium untuk Kepemimpinan Politik Perempuan Jawa Barat (KPPP Jabar)
LBH APIK DI Yogyakarta
LBH APIK Jawa Tengah
LBH APIK Kalimantan Barat
LBH APIK Kalimantan Timur
LBH APIK Makasar (Sulawesi Selatan)
LBH APIK Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam
LBH APIK Nusa Tenggara Barat
LBH APIK Nusa Tenggara Timur
LBH APIK Sulawesi Tengah
LBH APIK Sulawesi Utara
LBH APIK Sumatera Barat
LBH APIK Sumatera Selatan
LBH APIK Sumatera Utara
LBH Makassar
Lembaga Advokasi Perempuan DAMAR Lampung (Helda Khasmy)
Lembaga Partisipasi Perempuan (LP2)
Matepe Makassar
Mitra Perempuan
Pelpem GKPS
Perempuan Mahardhika
Pergerakan Indonesia
Perkumpulan Cut Nyak Dien, Yogyakarta
Perkumpulan IDEA Yogyakarta
Perkumpulan Keluarga Berencana Indonesia (PKBI)
Perkumpulan Rumah Perempuan, Jember
PLU Satu Hati
PMK HKBP Jakarta
PT SUSDEC member of LPTP, Solo
Puan Amal Hayati
Pusat Pendidikan & Advokasi Masyarakat Marginal (Perkumpulan PEDULI in Medan)
Raising Her Voice, OXFAM GB - Indonesia
Rumpun Gema Perempuan
Sahabat Perempuan dan Anak Indonesia (SAPA Indonesia)
SA-KPPD, Surabaya
SAPA Institute
SAPDA Jogja (Sentra Advokasi Perempuan Difabel dan Anak)
Sekretariat Nasional Solidaritas Perempuan
Serikat Perempuan Bantul
Solidaritas Perempuan Anging Mammiri- Sulawesi Selatan
Solidaritas Perempuan Bungong Jeumpa – Aceh
Solidaritas Perempuan Kinasih Yogyakarta
Solidaritas Perempuan,Kendari
The Institute for Defense, Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS) - Mufti Makaarim al-Ahlaq
Walhi Kalbar (Hendrikus Adam)
YASANTI, Yogyakarta
Yayasan Anugerah Bina Insani (YABI)
Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan
Yayasan Walang Perempuan- Ambon
YLK Sulawesi Selatan (Sulsel)

Regio nal/International Organizations:

AMAN foundation Kalkata, India
AMAN, Srilanka
Amnesty International
ASEAN Progressive Muslim Movement (APMM)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD)
Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), Thailand
Asian Women's Resource Centre (AWRC) for Culture and Theology
GSIR Ritsumeikan University
INFORM Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
IWRAW Asia Pacific
Muntada-Arab Forum for Sexuality Education & Health, Palestine
Nasawiya, The Feminist Collective, Lebanon
Ngozi Nwosu-Juba
Sisters In Islam, Malaysia
Southeast Asia Women's Caucus on ASEAN
Vision Spring Initiatives
Women for Women's Human Rights, Istanbul, Turkey
Women Living Under Muslim Laws, International Coordination Office, UK


Agus Sutomo, Lembaga Gemawan, Indonesia
Anna Blaszczyk, Poland
Anna Strempel, Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Christine Anderson
Daniel, Indonesia
Deryn Mansell, guru bahasa Indonesia di Australia
Dewi Anggraeni, Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Free hearty, WOHAI
Dr. Tiara M Nisa, Indonesia
Evelyne Accad (Professeur Emerite, University of Illinois, Lebanese American University)
Exsaudi Romadia M. Simanjuntak, Indonesia
Firliana Purwanti, Indonesia
Fitri Bintang Timur, Indonesia
Ian Usman L ewis, Australia
Jack McNaught, Director of International Internships Pty Ltd
Joko Sulistyo, Indonesia
Joy Appleby
Julia Suryakusuma, Indonesia
Katharine McGregor, the University of Melbourne
K.D.Thomas, Volunteer Graduate, Lembaga Penjelidian Ekonomi dan Masyarakat Fakultas Eknomi (1955-1960)
Maesy Angelina, Indonesia
Merry Iyi
Ms Elena Williams, Australian National University
Mukhotib MD, PAUD Pandan Wangi, Magelang
Mustafa Sabaroedin, Minang Saiyo Melbourne
Nina Nurmila, a member of Alimat and a lecturer of Universitas Islam Negeri Bandung
Nino Viartasiwi, GSIR Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto-JAPAN
Nunung Fatma, Indonesia
Nurul Sutarti, Yayasan Krida Paramita, Surakarta, Indonesia
Orlando Baylon Gravador, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Padmawati Ari Suryani, Asian Women's Resource Centre (AWRC) for Culture and Theology
Prof. Dr Saskia E. Wieringa, University of Amsterdam
Putri Kanesia, KontraS
R. Valentina Sagala, Indonesia
Ratu Dian Hatifah, Indonesia
Rita, Indonesia
Sally Hill, Law Student, Australia
Syafira Hardani
Theresia, Indonesia
Tunggal Pawestri, BITES, Indonesia
Witryna Anna Gostkawskiej

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